Friday, 26 June 2009

Vacarescu family (1)

***The Vacarescu family is a classic example of conflicting claims about origins. The family tradition explains the name as coming from that of the Transylvanian town of Fagaras and thus claims descendance from a Hungarian noble family. On the other hand, the name 'Vacarescu' ( Vacar-escu ) would logically imply a descendance from a cowherd.

***The first important member of this family is Ianache Vacarescu, High Treasurer under Constantin Brancoveanu, Lord of Wallachia ( 1688-1714 ). Together with his Lord and the latter's sons he was taken to Constantinople and beheaded in 1714 ( after refusing to convert to Islam, as some sources would have it ); all six of them were canonised by the Romanian Orthodox Church in 1992. He and his wife Stanca built ( or perhaps rebuilt ) Razvan Church in Bucharest. They had four sons. Another mystery concerning the family is their relationship to the Vacaresti Convent. This very important monastery was founded by Nicolae Mavrocordat, Lord of Wallachia ( 1716; 1719-1730 ), presumably on land purchased from the family, probably from one of Ianache's sons. These sons were Constantin, Barbu, Stefan and Radu. They had a sister Elena, married to Great Ban Mihail Cantacuzino. High Treasurer Constantin Vacarescu was close to Lord Nicolae Mavrocordat and wrote a genealogy of this prince; at his death he was in charge of leading several high boyars on an unsuccessful mission to Jassy to offer Wallachia's crown to Grigore II Ghica of Moldavia. Barbu Vacarescu was exiled to Cyprus by the Sultan in 1756 for opposing Constantin Racovita, Lord of Wallachia at the time; he died there. He had one daughter, Maria, who married Great Ban Dimitrie ( Dumitrache ) Ghica ( second wife ), one of the senior boyars of his age, nephew of Grigore II Ghica, brother of Grigore III Ghica and founder of the Wallachian branch of the Ghicas. Her dowry included an estate just outside Bucharest, nowadays Tei neighbourhood; on this estate her son, Grigore IV Dimitrie Ghica ( Lord of Wallachia, 1822-1828 ), built his Ghica-Tei Palace; the road which used to be the Western boundary of the estate is now Barbu Vacarescu Street, an important street in Bucharest. Stefan and Radu, Barbu's brothers, were ancestors of the two branches of the family.

***I. Stefan Vacarescu, Great Ban of Craiova, married Ecaterina Donca. They were owners of the Baneasa estate outside Bucharest ( nowadays Baneasa neighbourhood ), named after the widowed Ecaterina, where they had St Nicholas-at-Baneasa Church ( 'Sf. Nicolae-Baneasa' ) built, which is still extant. Stefan was exiled to Cyprus together with his brother Barbu ( see above ); he died allegedly poisoned by the same Constantin Racovita during another of his Wallachian reigns. His son was Ianache ( Ienachita ) Vacarescu ( ca. 1740 - 1797 ), a pioneer of Romanian culture. He wrote History of the most mighty Ottoman Emperors and a grammar ( Observations or remarks on the rules and regulations of Romanian grammar ), but he is most widely remembered for his poems, typical examples of the Phanariote age, written in a very sweet and diminutive style, based on Greek models; they are usually love poems ( In a garden and Sad turtledove are the most renowned ), but also his patriotic Testament. Ienachita Vacarescu owned a house on Victory Road ( on land inherited from his father and grandfather ) which not long after his death became property of the Bellu family ( Stefan Bellu I think ); the house is still extant, in a much modified form of course. He also built a new residence for himself at Baneasa, supposedly lavish. He held different noble offices ( High Treasurer, Steward, Grand Palatine ). Ienachita Vacarescu was close to Lord Alexandru Ipsilanti, who in 1781 sent him to Sibiu as head of a delegation with the task of bringing back the Lord's fugitive sons. Other Lords didn't trust him: Nicolae Mavrogheni exiled him to Nikopol. His sympathies were anti-Russian and rather pro-Ottoman. He married three times: with Elena Rizu, with Elena Caragea ( sister of Lord Ioan Caragea ) and with Princess Ecaterina Caragea ( third cousin of the previous and daughter of Lord Nicolae Caragea ). From his first marriage he had Alexandru ( Alecu ), from his third he had Nicolae.

***Grand Palatine Nicolae Vacarescu is less appreciated than his father as a poet. He wrote in the same overly sentimental style; but he also wrote an outlawry ballad in popular style ( Durda ) and a number of published letters to his nephew Iancu ( see below ). He was also involved in politics, being sent by the boyars to Oltenia in February 1821 to negociate with Vladimirescu at the beginning of his uprising. He married Alexandrina Baleanu, daughter of Great Ban Grigore Baleanu and sister of politicians Emanoil sr. and Nicolae Baleanu. Their daughter was Maria ( 'Maritica' ), married first to Steward Constantin ( Costache ) Ghica, youngest of Great Ban Dumitrache's sons ( from his third marriage ); among their children, two daughters married Rasponi-Murat. Gheorghe Bibescu, Lord of Wallachia ( 1842-1848 ), began an affair with her at the beginning of his reign; he was married, but his wife had lost her mental health; he managed to force a divorce in 1844, he bribed Ghica into his own divorce and he married Maritica in 1845. This was all very controversial at the time, especially since Metropolitan Neophytus actively and openly opposed the divorce of this Romanian Henry VIII; it was finally granted by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, passing over the Metropolitan. Maritica inherited Baneasa from her father ( who had inherited from Ienachita ) and Bibescu began building there a big palace which was left unfinished; the estate was inherited by one of their two daughters, Countess Marie de Montesquiou-Fezensac and then by her French Montesquiou descendants.

***Alecu Vacarescu, Ienachita's first son, was also a poet and - like Nicolae - less appreciated than his father; he used the same Phanariote style. He was accused of murdering his aunt Venetiana Vacarescu and arrested in 1799 at Lord Alexandru Moruzi's orders; he was never seen again, one rumour was that he died in prison in Tulcea, another that he was strangled on the way and the body thrown in the Danube. He married a Dudescu; among their children:
******- Maria, married to sometime minister Constantin Balaceanu ( they were Iancu Balaceanu's parents );
******- Ioan ( Iancu ) Vacarescu ( 1792-1863 ), poet of the first Modern period of Romanian poetry, is considered more original than the others in his family. He wrote on love ( Love's spring ) and also patriotic themes ( The people's voice under tyranny ), being a supporter of Vladimirescu's 1821 uprising. His house in Bucharest ( on the aptly named Ienachita Vacarescu Street, formerly Poet's Street, under Metropolitanate Hill ), is still extant, housing the National Institute of Historical Monuments. He married Ecaterina Cantacuzino-Pascanu ( see ). Their children were:
*********- Ecaterina ( Mita ), married to Grigore Lahovary ( see below, point 2 );
*********- Maria, married to Scarlat Falcoianu, Foreign Minister ( 1859 ), Minister for Religious Faiths ( 1861 ) and Justice Minister ( 1861-1862 ) of Wallachia;
*********- Alexandrina ( Didina ) Darvari, whose son Alexandru Darvari married Princess Marie-Nicole Bibescu; the family had a house on Victory Road, close to its northern end ( nowadays Victory Square );
*********- Constantin Vacarescu;
*********- Mihai ( Misu ) Vacarescu, better known as 'Claymoor', the name he used for his high-life chronicles, published in L'independence roumaine. These dealt with parties, receptions, balls etc. and were heavily focused on women's fashion; at some point, his articles were the most widely read pieces of journalism in Romania and the chief concern of more than a few ladies was how Claymoor did or didn't describe them;
*********- Ioan ( Ienachita ) Vacarescu was diplomat, being ambassador to Serbia ( 1888-1889 ), Belgium ( 1889-1891 ) and Italy ( like his cousin Iancu Balaceanu; 1891 ). He built a manor on his estate Vacaresti ( Dambovita county ). He married Eufrosina Falcoianu and had two daughters:
************- Zoe married Mihail Caribol;
************- Elena Vacarescu ( 1864-1947 ), famous for her love affair with Prince ( future King ) Ferdinand in 1891. She was a maid of honour of Queen Elisabeta ( it's said that She saw in her the soul of Her late daughter, Princess Maria, deceased at a tender age ) and Ferdinand met her in the Queen's entourage, who in her romantic fancy encouraged the affair. This was passionate, despite Elena's legendary ugliness and despite the fact that his desire to marry her was completely unacceptable from a political point of view ( Unebenbuertigkeit ). The King and President of the Council Lascar Catargiu intervened and the two were separated. Elena Vacarescu was never again permitted to permanently reside in Romania, Ienachita Vacarescu's diplomatic career was cut short and the Queen was sent to Her family at Neuwied for an unofficial two-year exile. Elena lived afterwards mostly in Paris, where she published different kinds of literature ( in French ), especially poetry, more or less appreciated. She was an arduous supporter of Romania in the political circles of Paris, particularly during the Peace Conferences of 1918-1920 and 1946-1947 ( at the last one she was also member of the Romanian official delegation, before her death ); she was also Romanian delegate to the League of Nations ( the only woman delegate ) for most of the '20s and '30s; according to a legend, the Charter of the League of Nations was actually drafted in her house, seeing that she had many influential friends ( ex. Raymond Poincare ). She was an active member of the Romanian expats' society in Paris, sharing in all the petty rivalries ( especially with Princess Martha Bibescu, see ); in fact, for all her passionate supporters and admirers there have always been violent detractors. She never remarried and it is said that she never forgot King Ferdinand. Buried in Paris, her remains were repatriated to Romania with military honours and reburied in the Bellu Cemetery in 1959, something which in Communist Romania for an aristocrat was surprising and a huge favour on the part of the regime.

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